Watered down: Made to fill water for mobile toilets, Panchkula’s firemen hot under collar
Expected to stay on their toes for possible exigencies, employees of the Panchkula fire department are piqued over being tasked with filling water tanks of mobile toilets set up by the municipal corporation (MC) in Panchkula city and Pinjore.
This, when the department is already struggling for want of adequate manpower. Panchkula district has a single fire station in Panchkula’s Sector 5, that has eight fire tenders, while a fire tender each is stationed at Barwala and Kalka. The single fire station caters to a population of over 5.6 lakh with a staff strength of 35.
“Making matters worse, three months ago, fire wing employees were assigned the job to fill water tanks of mobile toilets at five locations in Panchkula and Pinjore, forcing the staff to commute around these towns both in the morning and evening,” a fire department officials, requesting anonymity, said.
“Of the total eight fire tenders four are sent off to fill water tanks of mobile toilets at several spots, including Chowki village and Khark Mangoli village in Pinjore and at Old Panchkula. There are times when there are only two people left at the office, which hampers fire service,’’ the official added.
However, fire station officer Shamsher Malik claimed, “After a request to the authorities, the additional work has been minimised. There is no more a significant burden on the staff, and a fire tender is also used sparingly. With arrival of summer, there is an increase in fire mishaps, so we are focusing on our core responsibility.”
On April 28, when a fire broke out at a departmental store in Sector 16, one of the fire tenders, meant to attend to the fire, was on its way to Old Panchkula for filing water tanks of the mobile toilets.
MC commissioner Rajesh Jogpal said they did task the fire wing staff with the additional work, but it did not affect the fire services. “A small fire tender is used for filing water tanks. We, too, have a water tank with a motor that is used for the purpose. We ensure that fire services are not affected,” he added.